Solving college basketball’s one and done problem

Every year we see it at Kentucky. A bunch of 19-year old kids leave school after just one year, as they enter the NBA draft. They leave behind an incomplete education with hopes of making millions in professional basketball.

Karl-Anthony_Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns only spent one year at Kentucky, but has transitioned well to the NBA. (Wikimedia Commons)

Kentucky isn’t the only school where this is happening though, as it has morphed into a problem across the entire NCAA landscape. This “one and done” phenomenon is a product of the NBA’s rule requiring players to spend one year in college or playing overseas before entering the league’s rookie draft. This leads to several, I won’t say all, student-athletes heading to school to essentially major in basketball.

They take a couple of classes to keep their GPA up to be eligible for the basketball season and then leave school after one year with no real education. This year, we saw potential number one overall pick Ben Simmons withdraw from classes early, after the season had ended so he could focus on training for the upcoming draft combine.

Many of these players make millions at the next and have no need for an education, but for those who fall through the cracks and fail to take hold in the league, they suddenly find themselves out of a job without a college education.

The quality of play has dropped off as well. Back in the best days of college basketball, you had players staying for three or four years at their respective schools, developing into polished players before making the jump to the pros.

Think back to the days when Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing and so many others stayed in school long enough to become superstars and transcend college programs. College basketball lacks that right now, with very few of the game’s top players staying for more than a year at the collegiate level.

That is what college basketball needs to increase the level of play again. The NBA could use the same thing to be honest. Most of these rookies enter the league and require a year or two essentially sitting on the bench or playing in the D-league because they aren’t ready to compete at the next level yet. Very few come in as polished products ready to contribute on day one.

Tyler Ennis
Ennis was drafted in the first round in 2014 by the Phoenix Suns. (Wikimedia Commons)

Look at Tyler Ennis as an example. He had one great year at Syracuse and then decided to make the jump to the pros. Ennis would have benefited from another year in college, but as a result of the one and done culture, felt that he needed to enter the draft. Over the last two years, Ennis has only played 79 games, averaging around 14 minutes per game. He is constantly bouncing back and forth from the NBA to the D-league and while he is still young, his NBA career has gotten off to a very slow start.

Ennis is far from the only one either. Anthony Bennett failed to translate to the NBA after just one season an UNLV. Austin Rivers is still only a role piece as he left Duke after just one year.

To solve all of these issues, the NCAA and the NBA needs to work out a new structure for how long college athletes must stay in school and about the requirements of going to school.

The NCAA should adopt a system similar to what it has set up for college baseball. Players are not require to play a year before entering the professional draft. However, if these high schoolers decide to attend a college as a student-athlete, they must spend three years at the school before they can enter the draft. I would also like to add some other provisions as well.

Universities would be required to honor a player’s scholarship if he chose to come back and finish his degree after his playing days had ended or if he decided to complete it during the summer. They would also be required to honor the scholarship of student-athletes in the event of an injury that cost them their career.

This system would actually solve so many different issues. First and foremost, players would finally have a more complete education having to finish three years of school rather than just one. That additional year required to finish most undergraduate degrees would be much easier to complete at a later time and the athletes would have it covered by their scholarship. The student-athletes would also be able to continue their education in the event of an injury, which happens way too frequently and results in a loss of scholarship.

While it seems like the NCAA is giving up a lot here, there would be some major benefits. To start, they would see a huge jump in the quality of play for college basketball. With players staying school longer, they can become more marketable to fans and television networks, meaning an uptick in revenue.

The schools would also see an increase in Academic Progress Ratings. The NCAA describes this as, “hold[ing] institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.” With a higher retention rate and increased graduation rates of players, schools would be able to boost their ratings.

College basketball as a whole would benefit from this system as the talent would begin to spread. With student-athletes staying school longer, coaches would not need to recruit as heavily each year, which would mean that players would have to start looking at schools other than the traditional powerhouses if they wanted playing time right away.

We would also see an improvement in play at the NBA level. The guys who are ready to compete right out of high school would no longer have to waste a year playing college ball without a real educate in place. There are still plenty of them that transition seamlessly into the pros after just one season in college. Those who need a little time to develop would have three whole years to hone their skills and refine their game before jumping to the NBA. That would lead to an increase in pro-ready prospects.

This system is not perfect, but it is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to repairing the current dysfunctional method to college basketball.

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In sports, hate is respect

There are some people in sports that you just hate. You hate seeing them have win awards or titles. You hate seeing them make a spectacular play. You just hate seeing them have success in general.

I talked about it the other day, but there are all kinds of hate. There is the hate for Alex Rodriguez, Sepp Blatter and Roger Goodell, which is based on their character and decision making. However, there is also the hatred of a player because he or she is really good at what he or she does.

USA Canada 2010 Gold Medal Game
Crosby scored the game-winning goal in overtime against the US. (Wikimedia Commons)

This version of the word is reserved for a only a few in sports. There are many that hate LeBron. Plenty despised Manning. Crosby is a someone hockey fans love to hate. Messi and Ronaldo are two of the most hated players in the world.

This kind of hate is usually personal. For me, I’ve always hated Brady and Kobe, as well as Crosby, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I never wanted to see them do well and it pained me when they did. That was a problem cause they were successful a lot.

In sports, hatred is the highest level of respect a fan can have for a player. That might sound odd, but when you think about it, it adds up. You despise these athletes because of how good they are at what they do. It is nothing to do with who they are as a person in this case. Instead, it focuses on their accomplishments, which means that you have acknowledged their success.

Kobe Bryant
Bryant retired third on the NBA all-time scoring list. (Wikimedia Commons)

It took me a very long time to realize why I hated some of these guys so much. It was because they were really good. I hated these players like Brady, Crosby and Kobe because they continually did things that most other athletes could not and I didn’t want to see it happen. I truly hated them solely because they were good at what they did.

Eventually, that kind of hatred turns into respect. I can’t stand Kobe and his constantly isolation, but I recognize that he is one of the top ten players to ever lace them up. Crosby cost me $10 in a bet when I was a kid and cost the United States a gold medal in hockey at the Olympics. I resented him for that, but I know it’s because of how skilled he is as a player.

Tom_Brady
Brady is tied for the most Super Bowl wins as a quarterback in league history. (Wikimedia Commons)

And Brady, man, I don’t know if I can put into words how much I hate Brady. He has tormented the Jets for as long as I can remember and I mean that quite literally. I’ve watched him hold up the Lombardi Trophy four times. Each time has felt like a gut punch. However, I accept the fact that he is arguably the best quarterback in NFL history.

It is hard to admit these things to ourselves, much less to other people. You always want to maintain that those players are not as good as everyone else thinks they are. Eventually, you give up the fight though and begin to respect them.

That doesn’t mean you hate them any less, you just understand that your hatred is more than justified because of all the success they have accrued over the course of their respective careers.

Do I still hate these guys? Absolutely. But do I respect that they are great athletes that I am lucky to be watching. Yes, I just might not like to admit it.

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2012 NFL Redraft

Colts logoIndianapolis- Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The top pick in the draft stays the same four years later. Luck had an injury riddled 2015 season, but the Colts would be average at best without him.

Washington made up logoWashington- Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Wisconsin
Washington still elects to take a mobile quarterback at number two, just a different one. Odds are Wilson would not have had the same amount of success as he did in Seattle, but Washington would have the quarterback position solved for the next ten years.

Browns logoCleveland- Luke Keuchley, Middle Linebacker, Boston College
Cleveland ignores all of the talk about Keuchley not being athletic enough and take him at three instead of Trent Richardson. The Browns’ defense instantly gets better and gives Head Coach Pat Schumur a great piece to pair with D’Qwell Jackson.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
Like Indy, Minnesota replicates its 2012 pick. Kalil hasn’t been always consistent but he has been great at times for the Vikings and continues to start for them today.

Jaguars logoJacksonville- Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Instead of wasting a top five pick on a receiver with off the field issues, Jacksonville picks a slam dunk wide out instead in Jeffrey. Blaine Gabbert looks a whole lot better throwing to this big target, but still gets replaced in 2014.

Cowboys logoDallas- Josh Norman, Cornerback, Coastal Carolina
Jerry Jones originally picked Morris Claiborne here, but after several seasons of failing to take hold, Dallas moves on. Instead, Norman comes in and develops nicely into a shutdown corner for the Cowboys.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
Mark Barron was a decent player for the Buccaneers, but Harrison Smith would have been even better. Smith might not put up huge interception numbers, but he is one of the most reliable safeties in the league.

Dolphins logoMiami- Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
There are some who would say Miami should have made a different selection. However, Tannehill has been solid and plays better than anyone else the Dolphins had on their roster in 2012. And we know they aren’t taking RG3 in the top ten.

Panthers logoCarolina- T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Florida International
With Keuchley off the board, Carolina has to improvise. They take the speedy Hilton to give second-year quarterback another weapon alongside Steve Smith.

Bills logoBuffalo- Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
With the defensive line already set, Buffalo addresses corner again. Gilmore has been a solid starter for the Bills over the last four years. No need to change that.

Chiefs LogoKansas City- Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
The run of repeat picks continues here with Kansas City plugging up the middle of their defense with Poe.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
He has started every game over the past three season and registered 9.5 sacks last year. The Eagles would be smart to pick Cox again.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona- Bobby Wagner, Middle Linebacker, Utah State
Wagner does a little bit of everything. He is good in pass coverage, defends well against the run and even rushes the passer on occasion. Plugging him in to replace the aging Paris Lenon prepares this Cardinals defense for the future.

Rams logoSt. Louis- Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU
He might not be fast or put up great numbers, but Brockers is a handful for offensive lineman to deal with. His ability to eat up blocks makes the Rams defense click and gives guys like Chris Long and Robert Quinn an opportunity to get to the quarterback.

Seahawks logoSeattle- Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
Pete Carroll misses out on stealing Russell Wilson, but Jones would be a nice upgrade over Bruce Irvin. Let’s see how the Legion of Boom does with him rushing the passer.

Jets logoJets- Damon Harrison, Defensive Tackle, William Penn
Quinton Coples was a bust in New York, so the Jets take a defensive tackle instead to bolster their line. Harrison turns out to be a huge steal or the Jets after they sign him as an undrafted free agent.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Vontaze Burfict, Middle Linebacker, Arizona State
Another undrafted rookie ends up going in the first round and to the team that later signed him. Burfict lead Cincy in tackles as a rookie and hasn’t looked back.

Chargers logoSan Diego- Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
The Chargers needed defenisve help and they get it here in the form of Mercilus. He has been the other half of the Houston wrecking crew, opposite J.J. Watt. San Diego could use a little bit of that.

Bears logoChicago- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The Bears needed to give quarterback Jay Cutler a new target and Floyd becomes exactly that. He fits in nicely opposite Brandon Marshall, giving Chicago a solid tandem at receiver.

Titans logoTennessee- David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
DeCastro goes one pick sooner in the redraft, as Tennessee decide to pass on Kendall Wright. Instead, they bolster the offensive line while Chris Johnson and second-year quarterback Jake Locker try to jumpstart the offense.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh- Kevin Zietler, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
As a result of DeCastro going, Pittsburgh takes the next best guard available. The Steelers desperately needed line help to protect Ben Roethlisberger and Zietler has been a solid piece of the division rival Bengals’ line since he was drafted.

Patriots LogoNew England- Dont’a Hightower, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
With Chandler Jones off the board, New England settles for the guy they took later in this round. Hightower has been a rock for the Patriots defense since he entered the league.

Browns logoCleveland- Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
I really thought about making this RG3, but Cousins has shown signs of being the better option over the last four years. He finally hit his stride in year four, throwing for over 4,000 yards.

Lions LogoDetroit- Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
He certainly hasn’t been perfect, but the Lions need someone to protect Matt Stafford’s blindside. Reiff has started since day one in Detroit. No reason to change this pick.

Patriots LogoNew England- Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
This time around, Martin is the first running back off the board. New England always loves drafting versatile running backs. After a year or two though, Martin would likely take over the lead role in this backfield.

Texans logoHouston- Lavonte David, Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
The Texans went defense initially in 2012, but with Mercilus off the board already, they nab the former Cornhusker David. He might not be the pass rusher Mercilus was for Houston, but he is a tackling machine.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
Originally, the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick, but with Jenkins emerging as a solid number one corner, Cincinnati would much rather take him. Jenkins soon takes over the starting role for the aging Terrance Newman.

Packers logoGreen Bay- Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
You are probably thinking, well what about Eddie Lacy? Lacy was still in college and the Packers needed help in the backfield. Miller ends what had been a carosel of running backs starting the year before.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Tashaun Gipson, Safety, Wyoming
Harrison Smith got taken much earlier this time around, but Minnesota still needs help in the secondary. Gipson has turned into a very good safety in his time with both Cleveland and Denver.

49ers LogoSan Francisco- Olivier Vernon, Defensive End, Miami
A.J. Jenkins was a bust. Justin Smith turned 33 in 2012. The 49ers create a contingency plan for when he leaves and look to find receiver help later in the draft.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Alfred Morris, Running Back, Florida Atlantic
With Doug Martin off the board, Tampa takes the next best running back they can get in Alfred Morris. He completely fell off with Washington this year, but he has a couple of great seasons already under his belt.

Giants LogoGiants- Mychal Kendricks, Middle Linebacker, California
New York has needed to address the need at linebacker for years now. Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley were serviceable at best. Kendricks can come in a make a big difference in the pass coverage right away and provides a boost to the run defense.

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US 40-man roster for Copa America analyzed

By Jack Venezia

Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmann has won the second most matches as manager of the US in team history behind only Bruce Arena. (Wikimedia Commons)

On Sunday night US Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann named 40 players to his provisional roster for the Copa America this summer. Copa America will be hosted in the United States. High level international teams such as Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina will be playing in Copa America along with the US. This summer will be the halfway point between the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, making this Copa America competition a benchmark for the USMNT’s progress (or lack thereof).

Here is the roster:

GOALKEEPERS (5): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Ethan Horvath (Molde), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (15): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland)

MIDFIELDERS (12): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Danny Williams (Reading FC), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (8): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund),Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

Keepers
This is the exact group I expected to be selected. There was some doubt as to whether Will Yarabrough would steal a spot from the aging Nick Rimando, but that does not seem to be the case. As for the final roster, Howard and Guzan are locks, after that is anyone’s guess.

Defense
All of the selections at centerback make sense; we shall see who makes the final roster though. I am excited for the futures of Birnbaum and Miazga. At the leftback position, I take issue with bringing on Timmy Chandler and not Brek Shea. Chandler has never been consistent for the national team and Brek Shea has been killing it for Orlando since returning from injury. Plus, Brek Shea has been called up by Jurgen multiple times in the past which makes this even more baffling. Lastly, Eric Lichaj comes out of nowhere to join this roster. He has not been called up in quite some time.

Midfield
All of the regulars are here, which bodes well for the team’s chances in the tournament, i.e. no one crucial is injured or in an awful run of form. It is nice to see Perry Kitchen called up as many have been saying he should be the defensive midfield heir to Kyle Beckerman’s throne. He likely won this spot over Will Trapp, who has not been playing well with Columbus in MLS. Also interesting to see Nagbe listed among this group since these all seem to be central midfielders. Hopefully this means we will see Nagbe play in his preferred role rather than being pushed out to the wing as he has been in the past.

 

Clint_Dempsey
Dempsey has a chance to pass DeMarcus Beasly for fifth-most caps wearing a US uniform. (Wikimedia Commons)

Forwards
It looks like Jurgen has listed the wingers (Finlay, Pulisic, and others at times) with the forwards, which leads me to believe the US will play a 4-3-3. Pulisic’s inclusion is exciting as he has been getting minutes and goals for German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund as a teenager. Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood have also been hot scorers recently. The real question is, who plays the center forward position of that 4-3-3, Jozy or Clint? Dempsey has been playing on the wing occasionally for Seattle, but with varying amounts of success.

It is worth noting that training camp starts on May 16 for the USMNT. US Soccer must submit the final 23-player roster no later than May 20. On May 22, 25 and 28 the 23-man roster will play three warm up games against Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Bolivia, respectively. Copa America opens on June 3 with the US playing Columbia.

The pressure is on for Klinsmann to find some success in this tournament. After failing to win the Gold Cup last summer and a poor run in World Cup Qualifying. This is going to be a much tougher test, but the US should come away with a couple positive results.

Why I am defending Tom Brady

Let’s establish something right now, I am not and never have been a Patriots fan. In fact, I am completely the opposite. I am Jets fan. I hate the Patriots. I despise Bill Belichick for spurning the Jets all those years ago. I hate Tom Brady. I can’t stand Ty Law. Randy Moss in a Patriots uniform makes me sick. The fact that Danny Woodhead was so successful in New England drives me crazy.

Tom_Brady
Brady’s suspension forces him to miss the first four games of the 2016 regular season. (Wikimedia Commons)

I digress though because I am actually here to defend Tom Brady. The New England quarterback had his suspension reinstated on Monday following a new decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Brady is now set to miss the first four games of the 2016 season.

In most cases, that would make me really happy. I love seeing Brady upset or ticked off. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him get battered in the AFC Championship game against the Broncos. I relish his post game press conferences when he loses to the Jets. So naturally, Brady missing the first four games of the season should make me happy right?

Roger Goodell
Goodell’s annual salary is thought to be around $43 million. The NFL is not required to release his salary. (Wikimedia Commons)

Well not exactly. While Brady missing the first four games hurts the Patriots, something I enjoy, it also reinforces a bigger issue. Roger Goodell is still in charge of player discipline and more often than not, he makes decisions regarding player punishment without any rhyme or reason.

Based on the evidence found against Brady, the league really only had grounds to punish him for personal misconduct and refusal to cooperate. His destroying of his cell phone certainly made him look guilty and definitely underlines his lack of cooperation.

However, that is about where the hard evidence ends. Scientifically, the Patriots explained away any differences in the air pressure of the footballs in question from the 2015 AFC Championship against the Colts. The NFL essentially had nothing on Brady or the Patriots.

The issue being debated now in court is over the commissioner’s ability to assess discipline as he sees fit. I think that is a major issue. I’ve been saying for a while now that Goodell should not be in charge and that the league needs to change how it handles player punishments. Removing Goodell from the equation is a good first step.

This is a man who has continually botched situations like the Ray Rice incident and has shown his true colors. Goodell is a sexist, egotistical executive whose sole objective revolves around revenue.

Now, as I have said before, I hate Brady. With a passion. I have tried to set that aside when viewing this situation. I hate Roger Goodell even more, and I will be honest, I have made no effort to set those feelings aside when critiquing him.

Jimmy Garoppolo
In Brady’s absence, the Patriots will likely start second-year quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. (Wikimedia Commons)

The reason for that is because the type of hate I have for Brady and the type of hate I have for Goodell are fundamentally different. I hate Brady because he is really good at what he does and because his success often goes against what I would like to see happen as a sports fan. I hate Goodell on the other hand because he is terrible at what he does and I do not believe that he deserves to be in power. There is a very distinct difference in the reason why I hate each of them.

Brady has become the unfortunate center of the NFLPA’s challenge to Goodell’s power. He likely doesn’t deserve a four-game suspension. He is also not definitively guilty. But this is no longer about proving Brady guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is about establishing the power of the commissioner to suspend and fine players at his discretion. A power that I hardly think he deserves.

So yes, I am defending Brady. Not because I like him, or even think that he is completely innocent of all wrong doing. I am defending him because his opponent is Goodell, and I will never be on board with supporting that sycophantic, corrupt, greedy, misogynistic dictator who has continually brought shame to the sport that I love to watch on Sundays.

I hate Brady, but I know when to draw the line.

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